<For those who are afraid of the tranny failures; don't buy into that.>
Excuse me! Failing RX300 transmissions are a very well known fact. The problem is that Toyota/Lexus didn't fit the RX300 with a proper transmission. I know Lexus scavenged the parts bin for this car and much of the mechanics and electrics are the same as the Camry and the ES300. The same transmission is fitted to the ES300, but the RX300 is much heavier and must propel the rather stone-age 4x4 system fitted to this car. I guess many do towing too like me, and this seems to just kill this transmission. I paid almost $40,000 new back then. I just feel ripped off. I could have gotten a heavy duty suv for that kind of money.
Lexus is just overpriced, under-engineered junk. I don't trust them for a second anymore. Towing with that 3 litre was no funny business either. I'm now in a Trailblazer which is $3,000 cheaper even fully loaded. Looking back, I must have been insane buying that RX300.
Whoever posted the review above me was B.S. There isn't any problem with Lexus RX300 transmission according to "Consumer Guide Automotive" and "Identifix Reliability Ratings" from carfax.com.
I'm so surprised to read the above comments. I bought my 2002 RX 300 new and have put on 185,000 km and absolutely love it. Other than regular maintenance, I have not had any problems with it. In fact, I'm now replacing it with a newer model. All consumer reports gave this vehicle excellent ratings.
...However/but are the problems not mostly, if not all, with AWD's and not 2WD's'?
To re-phrase: Most "tranny" problems affect mainly AWD and not 2WD - is this accurate?!
I think all comments should include what "kind" of RX300 they have to help others more who are seeking help in this forum.
I myself bought and sold an '02 RX300 2WD, and at 102k miles the "tranny" still shifts good and smooth. But mine was a 2WD. So what's yours?
My 2001 RX300 AWD transmission went around 100K miles and the dealer wanted $8K to repair so we went to local transmission specialist, and he asked for $2500 for repair. After a week, we fixed it, but then it went again right after the warranty period (10,500 miles so it exceeded by 500) but he graciously repaired it again for free. We still have honest mechanics around which I'm REALLY glad to see.
Yesterday, my wife told me that the transmission stopped again at about 125K. Based on most of readings through blogs, opinions like this, it seems the AWD model have tranny problem well too often than not. Some are lucky but even mechanics (more than few I met) said this is a common issue for the model. Anyway, since the engine is still running good (maybe another 100K?) and all other mechanical conditions are good on the RX300 AWD (I've changed timing as well) I'm thinking to repair the transmission once again and this time... I will try to change the fluid in about 15K miles, as per many suggestions.
The RX 300 is a decent truck.
I bought my Lexus RX 300 in December of 1999 (2000 model) and now have about 438,000 Kms on it as of July 2009.
I have had great luck with it until recently. The CV joint boots are starting to leak. $14 part but 2 hours of labour each. No big deal though. Other models would have failed long ago.
I've changed all the fluids as often as is reasonable and used synthetic oil from day one.
Other than that these are my irritations:
1: Lexus warranty fulfillment. Beware of dealers that choose to ignore service bulletins. I have had a company owned dealer as well as my local dealer and one in Florida ignore my request to have strut and glove compartment squeaks fixed.. even though I found out years later that they had a service bulletin available to them that detailed the issue and how to correct it. My impression is that the high quality numbers for Lexus simply come from their ability to ignore issues and make you feel it's only your truck that has the problem.
2: At 250,000 kms my plug coils went. $100 bucks or so x 6. I changed the front row myself. Left the back row to the dealer.
3: Timing belt replacement... like what year are we in. Is it so difficult to figure out a way to run quiet timing without rubber belts. Come on.
4: Parts availability. I am trying to find the rear CV axle assembly for these trucks. No one makes them aftermarket for the 1999 and 2000 model. Dealer wants a $900 each.. painful.
Other than all that it's been great. The usual brakes and battery, but these things are tanks if you run them right. Go synthetic and never ever accept "no" from a dealer.
I have driven this thing pretty hard from day one. After the first 200,000 km I stopped pounding on the gas pedal... although I love accelerating full throttle on snow and mixed surfaces... I miss that :)
Things I love.
1: No lineups at the dealer for service.
2: Lexus courtesy car (depending on dealer. Be sure to ask before you buy new and walk if they don't do it)
3: Little improvements over Toyota.. like stainless exhaust.
4: Lexus has a habit of taking a nice concept vehicle and hitting it with an ugly stick. They always screw up something in the look of it that eventually forces them to offer their vehicles with cut rate leases and financing. I love it. You end up with a slightly higher end vehicle at the same lease/finance rate as a domestic.
Eg: Just look at the 2009 RX tail lights.. and lowered roof line. LOL.. what were they thinking. They should have followed more of a Highlander look instead of the fugly Venza.
I have a 2001 RX300 with more than 160,000 miles, never a transmission issue as I change the oil/filter and transmision fluid every 5000 miles myself. Lexus has made it very easy as both have drain plugs. I only use top tier synthetic fluids approved by Lexus. I ONLY use Toyota type 4 transmission fluid.
I can see you are upset about the RX300. But from all I have heard, seen and known about the vehicle, it seems you didn't pay attention to the vehicle's specification details or read the owners manual. RX300 1999-2003 models were not designed to be an off-road super star or the super-duper haulage equipment. From all you've said, it must have been that you towed weights above and beyond the vehicle's towing capacity, and that's definitely a transmission killer. No vehicle, device or mechanism can survive for too long if you keep loading it with more work than it is designed to handle at its highest limits. Even your Trailblazer will catch a flu if you use it for what it can't handle.